Brent Burnham Named Finalist for National Award
|Brent Burnham, a school counselor from Midway Elementary, has been named one of the top ten school counselors in America. Burnham is one of more than 230 elementary, middle, and secondary school counselors nationwide who were nominated for the School Counselor of the Year award. The award, which is presented by the American School Counselor Association, honors the professionals who devote their careers to serving as advocates and often lifesavers for the nation’s students.
A counselor for over six years, Burnham has strived to provide parents and teachers with guidance and solutions for several issues facing students. One of his greatest accomplishments is the development of his bullying prevention program “Bully Blockers,” which teaches victims and bystanders how to stop bullying encounters. The data-driven results of the program received the 2008 “Best of the Best” data project award from the Utah School Counselors Association and were featured in the Professional School Counseling Journal. Burnham was also named the Wasatch County School District Educator of the Year 2009-2010 and was a finalist for Utah School Counselor of the Year 2008-2009. He has collaborated with the Utah State Office of Education and Brigham Young University to improve schools’ anti-bullying curricula, and often presents at state conferences.
“Burnham helps students progress academically and personally,” said Holly Todd, Counselor at Old Mill Middle School. “I have seen him help students conquer hurdles that were keeping them from school, as well as educating and helping families.”
At Midway Elementary, Burnham attends every classroom in the school once a month for guidance lessons that incorporate multimedia, puppets, songs and even magic. In conjunction with each guidance lesson, Burnham invites students who demonstrate the lesson’s featured behavior or skill to become a member of “Burnham’s Bunch:” students wear a special button and are invited to his office for lunch. Students also participate in Burnham’s other programs such as “friendship groups” to discourage bullying and cliques, and a ten-step plan to encourage parent involvement with students’ homework.
Thanks to Burnham’s counseling, “our daughter now meets each school day with excitement and a smile,” note the parents of one of Burnham’s former students. “Brent does more than provide a temporary band-aid for maladaptive behaviors, he teaches our children at Midway Elementary lifelong social and behavioral coping skills.”
The School Counselor of the Year awards program was open to all 100,000 members of the school counseling profession. The top ten school counselors were nominated by their peers and administrators and judged by a select panel to be the “best of the best.”
The candidates were judged on several criteria, including: creative school counseling innovations, effective counseling programs, leadership skills, and contributions to student advancement.
“School counselors make significant contributions to the overall well-being of students and their success,” said Richard Wong, Executive Director, American School Counselor Association. “They have unique qualifications and skills that allow them to address students’ academic achievement, personal/social and career development needs.”
Burnham, along with the other nine finalists, will be flown to Washington, D.C., on February 2, 2011, for three days of celebratory events. The honorees will have meetings with their Members of Congress, attend a Congressional briefing, and be formally recognized at a black-tie gala.
Congressional co-chairs for the 2011 School Counselor of the Year program are: Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Sen. Pat Murray (D-Wash.), Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wisc.).
For additional information on the American School Counselor Association, please visit www.schoolcounselor.org.
BY JOHN MOSS